Ask a Trooper: Bus safety and the increased fine for stop-arm citations

Q: I read the fine for going through a school bus stop arm will increase in Minnesota. Can you talk about the fine amount and school bus safety?

A: As of Aug. 1, the fine has increased from $300 to $500 and the violation would remain a misdemeanor.

The Department of Public Safety reported that 3,659 bus drivers across the state reported 703 stop-arm violations in just one day during the annual

School Bus Stop Arm Survey held earlier this year. In the past six years, law enforcement across the state wrote nearly 9,000 stop-arm citations.

Law enforcement takes school bus stop arm and school patrol crossing guard flag violations very seriously. Law enforcement has up to four hours after an incident to respond to a violation, investigate and issue a citation, even though it was not committed in our presence.

School bus safety tips for motorists:
-Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and/or its stop arm is extended when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.
-Red flashing lights on buses indicate students are either entering or exiting the bus.
-Altering a route or schedule to avoid a bus is one way motorists can help improve safety. In doing so, motorists will not find themselves behind a bus and as a result, potentially putting children at risk.
-Watch for school crossing patrols and pedestrians. Reduce speeds in and around school zones.
-Watch and stop for pedestrians — the law applies to all street corners, for both marked and unmarked crosswalks (all street corners) — every corner is a crosswalk.

Parents should discuss and demonstrate pedestrian safety with their children and reinforce safe crossing after exiting a bus:
-When getting off a bus, look to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder (side of the road).
-Before crossing the street, wait until the driver’s face can be seen.
-Wait for the driver to signal that it is safe to cross.
-Look left, right, left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Keep watching traffic when crossing.
A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at [email protected]